Every year, the Center for Youth Ministry Training welcomes 12 to 15 new graduate residents to the program. Most of the residents are beginning their first job in youth ministry. They are diving head first into the deep waters of church work. Out of the gate, the church expects that they know how to “do” youth ministry. In addition to building relationships with youth and families, the church expects residents to know how manage a budget, train volunteers, discipline well, etc. There are practical skills that every youth minister needs to have if they are going to be successful for the short or long haul. Therefore, we developed our Practicum Pathway for residents to complete in their first year.
The Practicum Pathway resource is a series of 25 skill building segments (called “mile markers”) that graduate residents complete with the help of their coaches during the first year of the CYMT program. Centered on essential and practical skills for youth ministry, the Practicum Pathway interfaces with and builds upon the theological training that graduate residents receive in the classroom.
Graduate residents receive six academic credits in their first year for completing the mile markers. The Pathway mile markers are generally sequenced to pace with graduate residents in their growth as youth ministers over the course of their first year at CYMT. Some skill sets, such as how to create a yearly calendar for the youth ministry, are most appropriate for immediate development when a student enters CYMT, and other skill sets require some growth and youth ministry experience before being tackled, such as relating to parents. Coaches customize the sequence of Pathway mile markers for each individual graduate resident’s gifts, abilities, and ministry assignment.
Pathway mile markers are intended to cover essential skills for youth ministry that cannot be robustly addressed in the classroom due to either time constraints or the nature of a group-learning environment. CYMT courses in youth ministry generally deal with the practical theological development necessary for the faithful practice of youth ministry.
Below are the 25 Mile Markers:
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Coaches are responsible for moving their graduate residents through the Practicum Pathway and ensuring that graduate residents are completing Pathway mile markers at an appropriate pace and with satisfactory effort. A portfolio for each graduate resident is created based on the materials completed for each mile marker. In the end, this portfolio serves as a dialogue point for coaches and graduate residents, an example of the graduate resident’s practical skill sets for future employers, and a resource for graduate residents to use in ministry both present and future.
CYMT is proud to announce the expansion of our original initiative into Theology Together 2.0. CYMT aims to develop a curriculum to be used in local congregations and ministries. Taking what we have learned about engaging youth in deep theological reflection during missional experiences and embedding those processes into congregational youth ministries.
"I hope students come away from my courses with the ability to think more deeply, richly and theologically about their youth ministry practice. I think a lot of what happens in youth ministry happens unreflectively and can be deforming to young people, and my courses are intended to give students a theological framework for evaluating and reforming their youth ministry practice."
Of course, I want students to drink deeply from the academic readings, lectures and discussions, and I want them to be informed by the academics. But more than that, I want them to see that youth ministry is a calling of God, an important part of God’s mission in the world, one that should give them pride and evoke humility at the same time.